Nottingham was an important market town where at one time the price of wool set the price of wool for the whole of England. Much of the wool came from Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire and Rievaulx and Fountains Abbeys in Yorkshire with dealers coming from miles around and many like Robin would have gone to Mass in St. Mary’s Church which was adjacent to the market.
The church had been endowed with a chapel paid for by the guildsmen themselves specially for their own use. The roll of the “Gyld of St Mary in her own church, Nottingham, on the Feast of St Michael, 1371” features the names of 167 members of the Guild and shows prominent local residents including knights, clerks, carpenters, drapers and priests.”
Robin is described in the Gest as a rich merchant and Daniel Defoe describes merchants as going all over England with droves of pack horses to all the fairs and market towns all over the whole of England supplying shopkeepers and wholesalers in London, even exporting to merchants in Russia, Sweden, Holland and Germany. The modern equivalent would be a manufacturing and distribution company with a fleet of lorries, ships and even sending goods by aeroplane and of course such people are very rich.
These were the venturesome merchants whose wives dressed in fine clothes leaving noble ladies looking like Cinderella as their wealth was in land and castles rather than actual money. The result was that after the Black Death the prosperous merchant class became the most wealthy followed by the clergy the small businessmen, artisans, men-at-arms, menials and servants and lastly there were the peasants who worked the nearby fields. When Little John described Robin as the wealthiest merchant in all England he was talking about a very rich person although shortly after there was a deep depression that lasted a long time which would be when Robin Hood was living in the kings court and all his money was gone.
Although Robin Hood was in Nottingham it is unlikely Nottingham's candidate Robert-de-Kyme was Robin Hood and neither was he known as 'Robin Hood.' Professor Holt has this to say : - "Since Mr J. Lees (The Quest for Robin Hood, Nottingham 1987), has tried to revive Stukeley's pedigree in a revised form it may be useful to summarize a few of the salient errors."
First, the critical figure for both Stukeley and Mr Lees is William 'FitzOoth', who (Stukeley) or whose heir (Lees) was transferred to the custody of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, in 1214. In reality the William son of Otho, whose heir or heirs were placed in the custody of Aubrey de Vere, carl of Oxford, in 1205 and transferred to Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, in 1214, had nothing to do with the family of Kyme, or with the earls of Huntingdon, still less with Robin Hood. He is well known as an official of the Mint, holding his office in charge of the manufacture of the royal dies as a sergcanty. By 1219 he was succeeded by his son, Otho son of William, who still held office in 1242-3. It follows therefore that 'Robert fitz Ooth' is entirely fictitious; so is the alleged link between 'FitzOoth' and Kyme; and so are the grounds for seeking an original Robin Hood in the Kyme family.
Secondly, there is no evidence that any Robert of Kyme mentioned by Mr Lees was outlawed. The instance on which he relies is a royal remission of wrath and indignation incurred by an appeal of rape against a Robert of Kyme at Wenlock in 1226; there is no mention of outlawry.
Thirdly, Mr Lees's 'Robert of Kyme' is compounded of at least two distinct individuals, none of them an outlaw and none of them a disinherited elder son; many of the relationships he proposes within the Kyme family are quite unsupported by any contemporary evidence.
The recent attempt by Mr J. Lees (The Quest for Robin Hood, Nottingham 1987) to alter the accepted geography of the tales by placing Barnsdale in Sherwood is quite unacceptable. It involves an elementary misreading of the Gest: the knight was travelling south through Barnsdale, not north, as he insists, for he was intending to voyage to the Holy Land (56, 57); it is only later, after leaving Robin in Barnsdale, that he visits St Mary's, York, in order to repay his debt (84).
It is also based on a tendentious and uncritical evaluation of the place-name evidence. 'Brunnisdale' in Basford, Notts., cannot be equated with Barnsdale. 'Brunnis' is most probably 'brun', i.e. brown; 'Barn' comes from the personal name 'Beorn'. Moreover, the evidence linking Wentbridge, Sayles, Barnsdale and Wading Street is quite clear and certain.
The main facts concerning the use of Watling Street as a name for the Great North Road in the Barnsdale area, which Mr Lees questions, are incontrovertibly presented in The Place Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, vii, p. 145. (Professor Holt)
The Complete Peerage Volume 6 speaking about Nottingham's candidate says, “Robin Hood (for whose existence no contemporary evidence has been found) was first called Robert fitz Ooth in a fictitious pedigree concocted by the 18th century antiquary William Stukeley.” Since this was written a pardon has been discovered confirming Robin Hood was from Wadsley where Loxley is situated.